My Favorite Podcasts and Blogs of Late

28 11 2013

 podcastI’m a fan of podcasts, and have been for many years. I also read a number of blogs and thought I’d take a moment to share my favorites. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Set Godin is an author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. This blog covers topics discussed in his books Tribes,  Purple Cow and Linchpin.  Sign up for the daily email.
  • This is a podcast I’ve been listening to for years by Jason Van Orden and Jeremy Frandsen that focuses on internet business marketing and creating online businesses that reflect your single motivating purpose
  • This is a great out-of-the-box radio show (and downloadable) based on the best-selling book Freakonomics by journalist Stephen Dubner and University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt.
  • This is a podcast that got me first started in thinking about modern internet marketing and web2.0 businesses. Unfortunately it has been abandoned but there are still some great podcasts worth reviewing

This list is only focused on  business. There are a number of history podcasts  and golf podcasts that I strongly recommend but we’ll leave that for another day.

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Parenting – What I’ve Learned Raising Four Young Men

26 03 2013

Parenting – what I’ve learned raising four young men… Pat Helmers

  1. There is no more frustrating, nor gratifying job than raising a child
  2. Like birth, death, marriage and love, parenting is a fundamental  human experience.  Like birth and death, there is much  pain, but there is more than enough joy to offset the pain.
  3. Each child takes N amount of effort to raise. It’s a pay me now or pay me later situation.  If you don’t expend the energy early, you’ll expend it later (e.g.  30 years old living in your basement.)
  4. There is a lot of hefty lifting when raising a child. Having a spouse to help shoulder the burden is immense. Nothing can stress a marriage more than parenting. But when done right, with two people working in harmony, it can make all the difference.
  5. The trick to  ensure that your kids are adult readers, is to read to them nightly, starting from the time they are born. Once they learn the pattern of the story: context, conflict, adventure, resolution  … they won’t be able to put down books
  6. Don’t make a amends for the shortcomings in your life by living vicariously through your children’s life.  They are not you, and thank goodness for that.
  7. Being a responsible human being takes practice. Raise your children to make wise choices by starting out with easy ones.. .do you want vanilla or chocolate.
  8. Don’t let fear limit their growth. It has never been a safer time to raise a child. Don’t let the possibility of a one in a million tragedy,  stop you from having your child experience the risk and rewards of life.
  9. Let your kids fail  the early in life, then make them responsible for righting the wrong.  You are doing them a great injustice by being a safety net for all bad things. Flunking a class, breaking up with  a date, bending a fender,  or forgetting their lunch are trivial compared to divorce, death of a loved one, being fired,  a debilitating illness or failing out of college.  The early experiences are what children draw upon, to deal with the later.
  10. Hold your kids as long as you can. Eventually they will wiggle away. This teaches them bravery. Setup fences they can overcome… the basinet, crib, playpen, room, house, yard, block town, etc.  Children want boundaries. As they become more confident, they will jump the barriers and  search for adventure.  This is only right.
  11. Time is the most valuable thing you can give your children. Let the house fall apart.
  12. Most children are who they are for the rest of their lives. It is at this point in their lives where they may choose love or instead turn to fear and anger,.
  13. Expose your kids to all sports, eventually they will be drawn to one. Sports are the one place that best emulates the way the real world works for most people. It prepares them for society.
  14. Raise each according to their ability, provide each child according to their needs (Marx and Acts)
  15. A successful parent is one who has raised their children such that they don’t need them (but they do stop by and spend time because they enjoy your company)
  16. A parent is on 24×7 as a model.  Children will mirror your behaviors; choose wisely how you carry yourself.
  17. Be  a fool for your children, laugh.
  18. Be patient, sadly they will be adults before you know it.  Pay attention, don’t miss it.




Veritas Super Omnia

5 01 2013

Latin tabletThe Helmers men have been considering  a framework for a family crest and associated motto.  So far we are considering Veritas Super Omnia… or ” Truth Above All Things” .  Another option could be Veritas Super Omnias 0r “Truth Above Everyone” .   This could also be flipped Supra Omnem Veritatem “Above all, truth”.

I would be interested in hearing others thoughts on these options. Do they represent the fundamental essence of Helmers?





First Draft of New Book – Tao Te Ching of Sales

7 12 2012

I’ve authored a new eBook  titled The Tao Te Ching of Sales, a draft collection of postings regarding universal principles for sales professionals.  The book is free and I would appreciate it if you  would  share this generously with your friends, colleagues and peers. As the book states, “The Master Seller listens before talking”. Since this eBook is a draft, the author would appreciate any questions, comments or advice from the readers.

Thumbnail TTCOS





Chianti Hornets

3 08 2012

In the north of Italy lies the Chianti region that is known for producing fine red wines that are appreciated world-wide. The Chianti region covers a vast area of Tuscany and includes within its boundaries several overlapping Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regions. The area is noted for the cool climate of its elevated vineyards located up to 3000 feet. The vineyard soils of the region are predominately marl and chalk. The hills approaching the Alps shed the water to eliminate undue moisture. The blue clear skies and vineyards are a feast  for the eyes and microcosm on the complexity of our planet.

Recently scientists have found there is a hornet that lives among the grapes that provides and integral step in producing Chianti wines. Chianti Classico wines tend to be medium-bodied with firm tannin and medium-high to high acidity. Floral, cherry and light nutty notes are characteristic  aroma with these wines and much of this is generated by the yeast that is used to ferment the fruit. Prior to crushing, hornets who frequent the vineyards, travel among the plants to feed upon the fruit. Within their stomach is a brewers yeast, a culture unique and exclusive to the Tuscany region. As the hornet pass from plant to plant, the grapes start early fermentation that world appreciates in fine dry red wines. This was only recently understood by researchers from the University of Florence.

So it begs the thought experiment:   If the growers were to decide that these hornets were a pest, and took steps of eradication,  the complex aromas and flavor of the Chianti would tragically denigrate. Ignorance of the interconnections of our ecology has and can caused great misery and loss. The simple 3rd grade  lessons regarding the “eco-system” of  rain makes , makes evaporation, makes clouds, make rain, , makes evaporation, etc… is forgotten time and time again.

There is an ongoing and  heated debate on the validity of global warning.  The notion of green house gas creating a  bubble that is raising earth’s temperatures was considered fact 25 years ago.  But recently,  a number of naysayers have questioned  the science and it does appear that some pronouncements have been inflated.  And with those discrepancies, it seems these naysayers would prefer to discredit the entire premise and use it to justify the status quo when burning fossil fuels.  Is this wise?

In 1885 there was a great outbreak of cholera in  Chicago due waste flowing into the drinking water of Lake Michigan. Despite efforts to draw water miles and miles off shore,  the water was still polluted.  The notion of reversing the Chicago River was deemed by the captains of industry as too costly and would  irrevocably hurt Chicago business and competitive edge.  The cry to halt raising taxes was upheld  that is until that summer when all exchanges were closed for 20 days. It wasn’t until 12% of the population died that the project was funded, forever solving the problem of having clean drinking water in Chicago.  The Chicago River now flows south into the Illinois River.

As the hornets of Tuscany teach us, our world is interconnected in ways far beyond our knowledge.  We best be careful how we change our environment and not risk the opportunity to sip a dry red Chianti with a glass of pure Lake Michigan.





Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

2 08 2012

Mitt Romney returned from Europe this week.  Wearing is best presidential suit, he visited Great Britain, Israel and Poland.  There was quite a bit of chatter regarding a few gaffs he made “on the campaign trail”. But this was probably true of the then Senator Obama too   when he made his  trip to the Old World  in 2008.   It’s an  ancient  ritual for candidates to “prove” their knowledge and show proof they will be ready for foreign affairs on day One.

This week Governor Romney he returned to a series of new polls: one from   Gallup  and the second from Quinipiac. US News and Reports wrote “Obama Leads Romney in Critical Swing States”.    On the other hand Fox News reported  “Obama popular in voter-rich states but lagging in key battlegrounds”.  When I saw both of the these headlines, and delved into the articles I was surprised how differing these view were, at least at first blush.

To get to the bottom I looked at reference polls. Gallup had large set of data asking voter thoughts across all 50 states ond the District of Columbia.  The poll focused on the percent of voters who think President Obama is doing a good job, while the Quinipiac poll focuses solely on Florida Ohio and Pennsylvania,  and the likelihood they will support the President.   The data stated many facts that were published  in both articles.  However I was still unsure how  the authors referenced the same article and came to two very different conclusions.   How did this happen?

I dissected the articles and realized that both articles, though factually true, spun two different stories based on a nuanced reading of the polls.  These publishers  addressed both sides of  possible outcomes regarding the Presidential race.  Yet each had an argument that was supported by the data. So I was surprised  and wondering why I read articles why did i think i read what I read.  After a bit I realized how much I was swayed by the head line and lead sentence.

Most people are not rational in their decisions. Rarely do they dig deep into the facts. Clever writing and sounds bites most often win the fight. I like to think that intelligent voters, like myself, will make wise and prudent decisions founded in their studies.  Folks like me  desire to honor the truth and upheld it like the statue Lady Justice  the court house. However it was pretty clear that I was being worked by the publishers and I’m not immune  to this kind of marketing.  I guess I’m like the rest of the huddled masses.

In 1906 Mark Twain wrote in the North American Review   ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”  I do believe I’m as gullible as the next when it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff with statistics.  It’s pretty clear I need to become more vigilant and not let the slick ad guys in New York and Chicago manipulate my emotions.  It so much work being an informed voter!





Moraines of Illinois

31 07 2012

In far north west Illinois the Illinois Associated for School Curriculum Directors (ASCD) held a conference attended by mostly school administrators and Common Goal Systems attended to showcase it’s new module to support 1-to-1 computing in the classroom.  A good 2-3 hours from my home I woke up early and soon found myself driving up and down the hilly Moraines of Wisconsin, but only this time in Illinois. For those unfamiliar, a Moraine is a hill.  And  for some odd reason when the Glaciers formed and scraped the landscape flat, as is most of Illinois, it skipped the Wisconsin along with  this lone portion of Illinois.  The conference was held at a resort not far from the touristy village of Galena.  Galena is known for a quaint downtown that hearkens to a time when mining was king, access to the Mississippi was quick and President Ulysses Grant was a only  a mere General. Now a bastion of ice cream parlors, restaurants, wineries and knick knack shops, Galena has found new success where other towns among Illinois have only found dust.

Eagle Ridge, the conference center, boasts of two big golf courses, the North and the South.  The conference ended earlier and my colleague and I decided to try the North course since it was said to be easier and closer. I was happy to pick the easy one since my golfing skills are severely limited. Carved throughout the Morrianes,  the course weaves among the trees. This is no links course, where a stray ball land can land safely in a fairway adjacent. No in this venue, stray balls become the property deep woods and tall grasses.  Both Jim and I spent signiciant energy combing the wildnerness in search of our ball, often times finding many others lost and wayward Titleist, Pinnacle and Calloways.   We both played poorly but it was a extremely intense, focused, and despite the hot dry heat,  incredbily enjoyable.

And during the round I kept thinking of the podcast I listened to on the drive up that morning. Stephen Leavett, the economist on Freakonomics, was talking about his addiction to golf. And how he is trying to make up for his lack of tenacity on the high school golf team. How golf is incredibly frustrating and yet it teases you into thinking that maybe you’re finally getting it. Maybe you’re swing is reaching a level of trust and consistency.  As an economist he loves that golf has an intellectual element  with numbers and yardages and pars and distances and all the various and intricate uses of the clubs to used here and there and only sometimes.  He loves the fact that it is a physical sport and you’re outdoors walking among a beautiful park. But he also know that it’s an isidious sport, with rules designed to give you the illusion that you can excel when in brutal cold reality you will never tame it, you will never own it and you will always be it’s whipping boy.

On the 18th hole I took a 3 wood and placed it half way down a Par 4, smack dab center of the fairway. With my hybrid the placed the ball just to the right of green and with a quick chip I was on the green only to two putt. Not bad for me and it was great to finish up the round and feel like a real golfer, whatever that is.  Again the sport gave me a quick hit of joy and endorphins  to again give it a try tomorrow. I’m feeling the itch right now…..